Thursday, August 19, 2010

Top Chef: Season 7, Episode 10

‘You’ve disguised yourselves as poor cooks’

Previously: It was “restaurant wars” but no one wants Alex’s crazy hands in any of the dishes. Alex is also rude to the staff, setting off some bad negative ju-ju. But it’s Kenny who gets the bad ju-ju as the “beast” is sent packing.

OK, let’s do it. Top Chef at 10 p.m.! Yikes. I want to go to bed while I’m retyping this recap. If some of this doesn’t make sense, it’s because I’m half asleep. Oh, the dancing cheftestants are back. Remember John and his bird nest of a hairdo? I don’t miss him at all. Or any of these other people. Oh wait, they’re still on the show.

It’s morning and we see Amanda first again. One of the cameramen must be having an affair with her or something because they’re always featuring her. Then we get Kevin talking about how Alex should have left instead of Kenny, and how Alex is clueless. I think Angelo misses Kenny also because he seems kind of off his game. It’s like Kenny was Angelo’s ying to his yang. Oh, Angelo is out in the garden with Amanda and Amanda is cleaning up a big coffee spill. Angelo’s talking about the show in the voiceover but at this moment you just see Angelo holding back his laughter because you just know Amanda did something really stupid when spilling the coffee.

The cheftestants arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and there are black boxes on the table with question marks. Then Ed says he sees Wylie Dufresne because he recognizes his side burns, while I say it’s more his Dutchboy hairdo.

Quickfire. Padma says they’ll be working with the mystery boxes, starting to cook with the ingredients but then through the course of cooking more mystery boxes will be coming in. All the ingredients will be used by everyone in their dishes, and it’s a high-stakes quickfire so $10,000 is on the line. Every time they have a cash prize, we’re always hearing about how the cheftestants would spend the money. Angelo just said he had to help his fiancée get a visa or something? I wonder where she’s from?

Angelo opens the mystery box and he jumps back slightly. I think it was the dead fish that scared him. Geesh, it's not like he found it in his bed. So in the box there are a whole fish, fava beans and a can with no labels.

They all start cooking and the editors show how everyone’s ignoring Alex, not even helping him find a can opener. Tiffany identifies that the can has hominy in it. Angelo looks a bit lost. See, I think he does need Kenny to challenge him.

A guy dressed in a black suit looking like Keanu Reeves with dark glasses bring in a mystery box, this one containing squid and black garlic. Then he comes in a few seconds later with ramps and passion fruit. And finally another box with fresh jicama. Interesting, I never saw jicama in its natural form. I always just see it as white strips at the salad bar.

As they’re cooking, they’re all kind of sweating. Eww, Angelo just admitted that he sweated into his dish. Extra salt. Gross. When time is called, they all look like they could need a good shower.

Tasting. Here’s how it went with Dufresne and Padma making the rounds.

Alex is first with a rockfish served with fava bean puree and sautéed squid. Dufresne asks if the ramp is cooked or raw. Alex says it’s “slowly melted.” WTF?

Tiffany made a fish stew. Wylie likes the broth.

Kelly made a Yucatecan seafood stew. Chef Dufresne says it’s spicy.

Amanda served up a crispy skin striped bass with squid fricassee. Dufresne asks if she used oil or butter, and she says a little bit of both.

Kevin came up with a pan-seared rockfish and salad. Wylie asks about the heat? Dufresne is really an inquisitive chef, always wondering what’s in a dish.

Ed made a sashimi of rockfish and hominy puree. Dufresne declares it excellent.

Angelo made some kind of fancy French thing, which I think he said was a pot au feu. Wylie says he was busy.

So who didn’t Dufresne like? He says Alex’s dish had components that didn’t all come together, and Amanda’s dish was a little oily. Plus, he says if you advertise your dish as “crispy skin” then the skin should be crispy.

His favorites were Tiffany’s stew with lots of integrated flavors and Kevin’s puree on the base of his dish. The editors show Kevin talking about how he’s never won a quickfire, and you know that means he’s going to win it. Then Chef Dufresne names Tiffany as the winner!! Dang editors trying to throw me off the scent.

Commercials. What? Sprint is still around? More fried chicken commercials. Church's is still around?

Elimination challenge. Padma says it’s a case of national security. Oh. MY. GAWD. The writers for this episode are so childish. You know it’s the CIA episode and Padma is saying stuff like “you’ve all been recruited as special agents by the CIA.” They have to “take on a new identity” and take a classic dish and disguise it as something else but retain the flavors. The writers for this show should not sit waiting for their Emmy.

They draw knives for assignments, and it’s dishes like French onion soup, cobb salad, beef wellington, etc. Padma says they’ll be cooking at the CIA Langley headquarters for CIA director Leon Panetta, and for some reason Tiffany and Amanda gets all excited like Panetta is some kind of rock star. Hel-LO, he’s a career Democrat politician. It’s not like he was involved in the cold war or did any undercover work. Anywho, the winner of this challenge also gets a trip to Paris and we hear Ed talk about how his girlfriend (not Tiffany) would love this prize. Who wouldn’t? Maybe Alex because I think he’s the only one in this group who doesn’t have a fiancée.

They shop at Whole Foods. Everyone’s wearing T-shirts so it looks like a hot day, which makes me think we’re moving into early summer of this filming. We learn that Alex was a videographer for weddings for years and has only been cooking for the last six years. Alex reveals that like it’s going to help him with this challenge because he can think out of the box, but it just makes me have less confident in him, and I wouldn’t hire him to film my wedding.

Kelly is making kung pao shrimp, which is weird because I’ve only heard of kung pao chicken but never shrimp. She's never made it, so she looks for a kung pao sauce in the Asian aisle to copy the ingredients from the back of the bottle so she knows what to cook. I don’t know how she’s going to mirror the flavors when she doesn’t even know how the dish tastes to begin with. But I say, add soy to anything and you’ll be good.

Angelo plans to recreate beef wellington by making a puff pastry pizza, but he’s buying frozen pre-made puff pastry and everyone thinks that’s going to send him home, like how John with the bird nest hair was sent home for using puff pastry.

Back at the Top Chef kitchen, Tiffany is excited still about the CIA, saying her favorite show was La Femme Nikita, which is why when Ed asks her what her spy name is, she says “Bridgette.” Amanda says she always wanted to be “Natasha” and seduce some spy.

Everyone is focused on their dishes and again ignoring Alex. This episode they spend a lot of time trash talking Alex, and Alex talking about how he’s isolated and doesn’t care. Then he yells out in the kitchen, “has anyone seen my smiley face cheese?” Or at least I think that’s what he says, and I don’t know if he’s being serious or sarcastic like he’s just saying something extremely crazy to see if anyone will respond. No one answers of course, and I really wanted to see what smiley cheese looked like.

Commercials. George Clooney is, duh, “the American.” He’s really lean in this movie, and since when did he have all those tattoos?

The cheftestants arrive at the CIA to some stupid music, and what’s weird is that they show them walk right in and there’s no one around or checking them. Talk about national security. I feel safe knowing cheftestants can just walk into the CIA.

Angelo looks like he’s a giant cooking the way he crouches over his tiny dishes. Kelly is busy making rice in the rice cooker, which she’s using for the first time, I guess, because they keep showing the cooker.

Amanda is worried about her French onion soup because it isn’t much of a disguise. She’s still making a soup. Kelly is also making a soup out of her kung pao shrimp.

Kelly asks Tiffany about rice cooking and whether the machine should turn off on its own. Yes, that’s how they work. But when the rice cooker beeps to say it’s done, Kelly opens the cooker and says it’s overcooked because it’s all mushy. Girl, that doesn’t mean your rice is overcooked. THAT MEANS YOU PUT TOO MUCH WATER IN THE RICE COOKER! Rice cookers are no brainers if you follow the water markings on the side. But she probably didn’t pay attention and now she thinks she has overcooked rice, which actually is “jook” or porridge. Tiffany basically tells her to cook the rice again, but Kelly tries to give up until Tiffany basically has to push her into making it old school on the stove top.

The judges arrive and it looks like Eric Ripert is making one of his rare appearances as the permanent guest judge. (I think this is only his third apperance?)

Padma introduces Leon Panetta and a bunch of CIA staff who we don’t recognize because we’re not supposed to.

Back in the kitchen, Angelo is saying he doesn’t feel like himself. He really looks off his game. He calls himself clueless. Man, pull yourself together! You know I’d so slap him if I were there.

Angelo and Kelly are up first. They try the dishes and play a guessing game. Most people guess right away that Angelo made beef wellington. Panetta says it was a poor disguise and “if he were captured we would hang him.” He also throws salt in Angelo’s wound by saying the dish was salty.

For Kelly’s kung pao shrimp broth, everyone guesses pad thai, but Tom guesses correctly that it’s kung pao shrimp but I have a feeling he already knew beforehand. I mean, he is one of the show’s producers.

Next come Kevin and Tiffany. Leon Panetta guesses that Tiffany’s dish is a gyro, and Ripert says it’s the most elegant gyro he’s ever ate in his life. Kevin’s dish looks like a salad, so people guess it right away that it’s the Cobb salad.

Then a guy comes out and hands a note to Panetta. He glances at it and then excuses himself, and then all the CIA staffers have this serious face on them like he has to go brief the president about some national security crisis but I’m pretty sure he’s leaving so he can meet some senators for poker night.

In the kitchen, Amanda is all worried for Alex, who she says reminds her of a wise old Jewish uncle she’s never had. Amanda, you know you can rent one if you like.

Next up is Amanda’s French onion soup, which everyone guessed right away. Tom says the oxtail marmalade was too sweet, and one guy says it tasted like honey and lemon cough syrup.

They dig into Alex’s veal parmesan and right away Tom Colicchio says OMG. Everyone looks like they’re having a hard time cutting into the veal. Tom jokes that the veal is tough like “pulling a post in Yemen.” Where exactly is Yemen?

The last dish comes from Ed, who’s feeling pretty confident about how everything worked out for him in the kitchen. He’s making chicken cordon bleu, and of course, Frenchie Ripert guesses it right away. Tom says the chicken was cooked nicely and Wylie Dufresne says a lot of labor went into the dish, but Padma says it didn’t look like much of a disguise.

Commercials. Pledge, you changed your look from yellow to metal blue? You’re confusing me with this new multi-purpose bottle. I want my yellow Pledge back! Sketchers, your Shape Up shoes look like the equivalent of mom jeans.

The Top Chef quicklook this episode is of the cheftestants sitting around the table back at their townhouse talking about whether Leon Panetta knows a lot of secrets, and Kelly goes on a rip about whether he knows who killed JFK and where they keep the aliens. Then Angelo jokes that there’s an alien in the house and it’s Alex. You know, he does look like a Martian.

Quick glimpse of the Lincoln Memorial at night and then were at the stew room. Padma comes in and asks for Tiffany, Kelly and Ed. You can tell Tiffany and Kelly know they’re in the top group. Ed just looks stressed as usual.

The three are indeed the top and they all get their obligatory pats on the back, although no one is really gushing. Dufresne names the winner and it’s Tiffany. Wow, she also won the quickfire. This is the second episode where she took BOTH the quickfire and elimination challenge. My money is on Tiffany to take it all for this season! She’s the front-runner for sure. Of course, she wins the trip to Paris and she yells out “honeymoon” and pretty much Top Chef is paying for her wedding at this point. Ed looks disappointed like he’s going to be killed by his girlfriend for not winning the Paris trip. He says he’s happy for Tiffany but I don’t think so.

You know, Padma is really bossy this season. She talks to the cheftestants like she’s a supreme ruler or something. After telling them whom to bring in, she tells them “Thank you, that will be all.” What are they? Her butlers? Padma’s not coming off very supportive tonight.

Tiffany sends in Alex, Amanda and Angelo. Kevin looks shocked Angelo is in the bottom three.

Amanda says she’s aware her dish was not disguised adequately. She says she was going more for flavor. Tom says she could have made a panna cotta, and that the marmalade was so sweet it threw the whole dish off.

Angelo also knows he missed the mark with his beef wellington. Tom says the pastry was dried out and asks if it was pre-made. Wylie adds that the plating was sloppy, and Ripert says he had the freedom to be creative but it ended up just sad.

Alex’s face is getting red as everyone’s talking about his dish. I just keep staring at the big spoon in his side pocket on his sleeve. Tom asks if any one of them will admit to be the seventh best person on Top Chef this season, and that was so confusing to me. But Amanda yells out no, and Amanda I’m pretty sure the question was rhetorical.

The three return to the stew room and Angelo looks really mad and says he should go home. Kelly says she doesn’t care if he goes home and goes on and on but in short she's saying “BUH-bye.”

The judges get some more digs into the dishes, with Wylie Dufresne calling Alex’s dish dishwater. Ripert says Angelo’s beef wellington would make Julia Child sad, and adds that anyone could do a better dish if they knew how to cook.

Commercials. That State Farm commercial looks like it was filmed at the new Yankees stadium. But what’s with everyone wearing baseball caps with the letter “B” on it? Reebox, like I’m supposed to believe your new easy tone shoes are supposed to shape my butt?

Judgment. Tom gets the same writers who wrote for Padma earlier in the episode as he talks about how the three had the assignment of taking a classic dish and disguise them, but their covers were blown, and they’ve “disguised yourselves as poor cooks.” Then Padma sends Alex packin', and the whole stew room sings out hallelujah.

No one seems really surprised, and Amanda is the first to hug her old wise Jewish uncle. The cheftestants clap but it looks pretty lackluster. In fact, a few of them are still sitting in their chair, not even bothering to stand up to say bye. Alex says he felt frustrated by the way he was treated, and brings up for one more time the pea puree conspiracy. He says people got angry at him because he’s a different kind of person. Maybe he really is an alien.

Next week: They’re at Nationals baseball park running their own concession stands, and Kevin looks angrier than Roger Clemens on his worst days. And someone is serving raw fish, but we’re not in San Francisco.

Top Chef airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Check your local listings. Photos courtesy of the Bravo TV website.


Ms. Glorimar said...

I agree with your point on Angelo needing Kenny. It surprised me how weary-minded he looked during the whole episode! I think he realized that, if someone like Kenny had been taken out from the competition so 'early', any little mistake could send him out too.

Good recap! I enjoyed your description on how Alex was voted out even more than when I saw it on TV. Well, thinking it thoroughly, it was a duplicated pleasure. :-D Next HAS TO BE Amanda.

MoHub said...

Beef willington? Really?

Then I wonder who was victorious at Waterloo, since Beef Wellington was named for him.

Single Guy Ben said...

MoHub, ha! Don't forget I said I'm typing this late at night. But nice to know I've got a copyeditor looking out for me. ;-)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Dude, you seem extra snarky when you're writing tired. Which is a good thing - keeps me reading!

You've never seen jicama in its natural form? Get one now and make yourself a fresh jicama salad!

Top Scallop said...

Drinky Padma is less angry than Sober Padma. She needs to get back on the sauce.

JoAn said...

I'm a Top Chef fan. It's the only TV show I watch regularly. Why? Because I have a Roku tied to my Netflix, that's why. But I digress. This guy's blog just made me giddy. So humorous, so close to what I was thinking as I watched the show, but couldn't articulate it. I mean, commenting on the commercials. Priceless. I'd never heard of this blog, but now I can't wait to see Single Guy's comments on the next show. Am I fawning? Yeah, maybe. But, this blog on the CIA/Alex-exit episode made my morning, and not many guys can do that.

MoHub said...

I really am a copyeditor, and I spend so much time doing it, it's hard to turn the machine off.